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Tucson seeing spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitals approaching full capacity

Updated: Jun. 9, 2020 at 6:46 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucson is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, which some are attributing to the opening of Arizona and the lifting of the stay at home order.

“The spike in cases has got to be related to our opening up about three weeks ago now,” said Dr. Randy Friese, a District 9 House member and surgeon at Banner Health. “It’s a very serious concern.”

Dr. Friese says the state is on “a very dangerous trajectory.”

He says he hopes the people in state leadership positions, such as Arizona Governor Doug Ducey “recognize that and we state putting in place some very important measures again.”

But he adds “that’s a decision which can’t be made lightly.”

Democrat Andres Cano, who represents District 3, agrees the state likely opened too early and it’s contributing to the spike in cases.

“Although we understood the Governor’s intention and listened very closely to business owners and their desire to reopen our state and get back to normal, there is no normal anymore,” he said. “It’s a new normal.”

Cano says he’s been to several places he won’t go back to again because people were not wearing masks and not taking proper precautions.

He also had to make a very difficult decision when Tucson rallied to remember George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis two weeks ago.

That rally was held in his District 3 at Dunbar, which would nearly require him to attend.

“I had to make a tough decision as a lawmaker and a person whether I was going to be there at this memorial to honor George Floyd,” he said. “I made the decision to stay home that night.”

That rally is also a concern to Pima County Board Chair Ramone Valadez.

“It’s like you get exposed here, it’ll be two weeks before you show symptoms,” Valadez said. “You have no idea that your’re COVID-19 positive.”

So for Valadez, the county is still a week away from knowing if the protests and subsequent rally will have a big impact or a small one.

“We simply don’t know,” he said. “Although I have a great deal of concern over that.”

Valadez does not receive the same information and daily updates which the state provides to both Dr. Friese and Cano and all lawmakers, so he’s relying on updates from county health officials.

“We are aware simply because the health officials actually talk to each other,” he said.

Phoenix is nearly capacity he said. A source in Maricopa County told him the Phoenix area has only about 10 percent capacity left.

Tucson is in much better position.

“When we’ve have discussions with Banner Health Care here in Pima County, they were very explicit that right now they are doing okay,” Valadez said.

The key is…. Right now….

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